Twisted! How Bangkok Post, Nation & Reuters reported the 80th anniversary ending of absolute monarchy

Yesterday, marked a historic day in Thailand’s long history towards Democracy, being the 80th year anniversary to the end of Thai “Absolute Monarchy.”

A Thai poll says about 70% to 80% of the Thais wants Democracy, with the rest, some form of a Fascist state. Other polls found, Thais wished the Democrat Party of Abhisit, stood for Democracy.

  • On the same day, about 50,000 Red Shirts, gathered at the Democracy monument, and gave speeches on the development of Thai Democracy, with a focus of the well-known “Judicialization” of Thailand by the courts.

In fact, the Constitutional Court, just placed a “Halt” on the process of amending the Thai military drawn constitution, telling Parliament to stop the process. Clearly, a “Judicial Coup” had taken place, with even the Thai Truth Commission and the Thai Commission on the Rule of Law, both coming out to criticized the Constitutional Court’s action.

  • Most analyst say, the Thai Establishment or Amataya, is now moving from military coups, to use the “Judiciary” to control Thailand. Clearly, for the courts to tell Parliament to take this and that action, is an infringement on the legislative branch’s powers, and where the amanding the military constitution, is slated to be done by a group of Thais who will be elected to amend the constitution.
  • The following is how Bangkok Post, Nation, Reuters and MCOT sees that important date in Thailand.

Ppeople the globe over, expect more from journalist-such as ethics and professionalism. What is journalist ethics and professionalism? Well, most people expect journalist to be factual, and report with as little bias as possible. What that means to people globe over is that journalist should stay focus on “Straight” reporting, and leave the opinion to the opinion piece or to columnist.

Please read the following, and decide yourself, if the journalist at Bangkok Post, Nation, Reuters and MCOT have lived up to your expectations.

MCOT

(comment: straight info)

BANGKOK, June 24 – The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) — or the red shirts – have gathered at Democracy Monument to mark the 80th anniversary of the transition of the Thai political system from absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy.

Red shirt key leaders–former Pheu Thai list MP Jatuporn Prompan, Deputy Agriculture Minister Natthawut Saikua, and UDD chair Thida Thavornset–took turns giving speeches on stage about the proposed constitutional amendment.

The UDD chair said that so far, about 100,000 names have been gathered and she believed another 100,000 signatures would be collected during the rally on Sunday.

The signature gathering campaign is part of the UDD plan to submit to the senate a one million signature petition seeking the impeachment of the Constitution Court judges, who voted to consider the legality of the draft constitutional amendment and issued an injunction to suspend the parliamentary process until the court makes its ruling. Most UDD leaders claimed the action was an infringement on the legislative process.

The mass gathering announced by the red shirt leaders was scheduled to end around midnight and will not be prolonged. Tight security has been provided by about 600 police officers.

Pol Col Krailert Buakaew, deputy chief of Metropolitan Police Division 1 inspected the rally site and talked with Aree Krainara, a key red shirt member and former UDD chief guard, about the overall security and atmosphere.

After the discussion, Mr Aree said that red shirt guards were working closely with police officers in order to provide security and maintain order during the gathering.

Although the overall situation is normal, Mr Aree was concerned over possible disturbances provoked by the third parties or ill-intentioned people.

Following a rumour that third parties may create chaotic incidents during the rally, UDD guards were instructed to closely inspect and report any irregularities to the police, Mr Aree said. (MCOT online news)

Reuters:

(comment: obsessed with Thaksin)

Thai ‘red shirts’ back constitutional change

BANGKOK – Thailand’s “red shirts” turned out in force yesterday to warn the judiciary they would not stand by if a plan to amend the constitution was rejected, a change critics say is aimed at allowing exiled former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra to come home.

Current prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra is Mr Thaksin’s sister. Her administration, including leaders of the red shirt protest group, describe the amendments and related amnesty moves as part of reconciliation plans to end a seven-year crisis.

The constitutional court is examining arguments that the government’s amendments could threaten Thailand’s constitutional monarchy. A final decision is expected in July, which will determine whether the debate can go ahead in August.

The present constitution was brought in under a military government in 2007 after Mr Thaksin was ousted in a coup in 2006.

According to police estimates, 35,000 red shirts had gathered at Democracy Monument in central Bangkok by late afternoon, many from Thaksin strongholds in the north and northeast, meeting in a festive atmosphere under light police presence.

A provisional court order this month caused the suspension of parliamentary debate on changes to the constitution, temporarily averting a crisis which could have the potential to flare up into another bloody street protest.

“The courts take their orders from the ruling classes. They are an obstacle to true democracy and that is why we are here today – this country still doesn’t have true democracy,” said Somwang Assarasee, a red shirt leader.

“If the court decides the charter cannot be amended, we will not listen. We are prepared to defy the court.”

Rallies by the red shirts, mostly drawn from poorer sections of society, and rival anti-Thaksin yellow shirts have frequently spilled over into violence.

At least 90 people died and almost 2,000 were injured during a protracted red shirt rally in 2010 that was put down by the military.

Mr Thaksin has chosen to live in exile rather than return and serve time in prison after being found guilty of abuse of power.

The red shirts say the latest court order shows complicity between the judiciary and a powerful elite around the royalist establishment and the army.

The courts have made decisions on several occasions in recent years that have caused pro-Thaksin governments to fall. “The injunction against the charter amendment Bill reinforces the red shirts’ view that the judicial odds are stacked against them,” said Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a political analyst at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University. “Their street mobilisation this time sends signals they will not stand by and be disenfranchised yet again,” he added.

The red shirts chose June 24th for their latest gathering as it marks the anniversary of a revolution that brought an end to absolute monarchy in 1932.

Mr Thaksin has been accused of republican leanings – taboo in a country where the king is revered by many – although he has always denied this.

To the anger of some red shirts, Ms Yingluck has ignored calls to amend lese-majesty laws that can give lengthy prison sentences to those found guilty of insulting the royal family. – (Reuters)

The Bangkok Post:

(comment: take side of court)

Democracy for the powerful

Published: 25/06/2012 at 02:03 AM

Sunday marked the 80th anniversary of the birth of democracy in Thailand. On June 24, 1932, a group of mostly foreign-educated military officers and civilians who called themselves the Khanarassadorn staged a bloodless coup to change this country’s administrative system from absolute monarchy to constitutional monarchy.

Students of the so-called June 24 Group for Democracy wearing imitation state uniforms perform a ceremony at the Royal Plaza. The group read a statement recounting the role of the Khanarassadorn group which staged a bloodless coup to change Thailand’s administrative system from absolute monarchy to constitutional monarchy on June 24, 1932. SEKSAN ROJJANAMETAKUL

n other words, Thai democracy is already 80 years old.

Had Thai democracy been a human being, it would be called a grandma or grandpa, depending on what gender can be attached to it. Sadly though, Thai democracy has never grown to full maturity despite the fact that there have been 25 general elections, 60 cabinets and 28 prime ministers, not to mention 11 coups and 11 failed coups.

Is Thai democracy really 80 years old? Most of us seem to believe so, but not Dr Chai-Anan Samudavanija, president of the Royal Institute and a prominent political scientist.

During his talk on the subject of Thai democracy at Chulalongkorn University on Thursday, he said he doubted it because even the Khanarassadorn had not thought about instituting democracy when they staged their coup.

What was on their minds was to prevent absolute monarchy from staging a comeback. Dr Chai-Anan explained that what emerged from the coup in June 1932 was actually a change of individuals in power who were not representative of the people.

The individuals who emerged as the new political players were the military and the bureaucrats, whereas the people were excluded from having any real say in the political process even though they were given more freedom and rights.

The political scientist said the Khanarassadorn was concerned with the threat posed by political parties.

Although there was a constitution and a parliament, it wasn’t until the year 1952 that the first political party law was enacted, opening the door for power grabs by political parties besides the traditional political players, namely the military and the so-called ammart elitist clique.

But whether Thai democracy is 80 years old or young, it doesn’t matter much to the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship which seized the opportunity to flex its muscles.

Red-shirt followers were mobilised to rally at the Democracy Monument yesterday to mark the historic event and to send a warning to the Constitution Court not to meddle with the government’s attempt to rewrite the constitution deemed by the red-shirt movement as a means to achieve its own brand of democracy.

They are keen on a charter which vests the supreme power of administration with a majority of the people without an effective checks-and-balances mechanism and probably with independent organisations such as the Constitution Court, the Election Commission, the National Anti-Corruption Commission and the Ombudsman that they hold in deep mistrust being neutralised.

UDD chairwoman Tida Tawornseth said that 80 years on, the people are yet to taste real democracy and they are still fighting for it.

It is true that real democracy is yet to be deeply entrenched in the political landscape. But I doubt that the majority of the people have been fighting for democracy as their top priority during that time. What they have been fighting for day in and day out is to fill their stomachs first.

And those who are actually fighting for democracy (their own brand of democracy) are the power-hungry politicians and the likes of Mrs Tida.

For many people, democracy matters only when there is an election _ the time when canvassers come door-knocking, offering to buy their votes and many voters are willing to sell their votes and don’t give a hoot about what democracy means to them.

Dr Ukris Mongkolnavin, president of the government-appointed National Rule of Law Independent Commission, also shared his view of democracy on this occasion. He said the main problem to the development of democratic rule in Thailand is that the supreme power of administration does not rest with the people. The simplest way to fix the problem, he said, is to accept the basic principle _ that in democratic rule, the supreme power of administration of the country belongs to the people.

Whatever decisions are made by the people must be accepted in accordance with the following principle: Rule of the people, by the people and for the people.

I couldn’t agree more with Dr Ukris’s notion of supreme power belonging to the people. But I doubt that the main obstacle to the development of democratic rule in Thailand is because supreme power belongs to somebody else and not the majority.

Politicians themselves should bear the brunt for the failure of democracy through their practices of vote buying, shifting loyalties to the highest bidder, corruption, power grabbing, selfishness and moral bankruptcy.

As long as these politicians are elected to parliament by the people and they are the majority in the parliament, there is no hope for democracy, especially if checks on their power are dismantled.

Of course, we have to accept rule by the majority as a matter of principle despite its weaknesses and flaws. But at the very least there must be an effective checks-and-balances mechanism, be it the judiciary or independent organisations.

Red shirts reclaim 1932 coup anniversary to advance cause

The Nation

(comment: not accepting Red Shirts)

Pravit Rojanaphruk,

As Sunday’s 80th anniversary of the June 24, 1932 coup approaches, Thai society has seen a steady revival of interest – especially among red shirts – in the day that marked the end of absolute monarchy, and whose date served as Thai National Day for two decades.

Red shirts will hold a mass demonstration on Sunday. On Monday this week, a group of Thammasat and Chulalongkorn University students wearing pseudo-1930s military uniforms gathered in front of Army Headquarters to urge the military to stop staging coups d’etat for good. The lyrics and music of the “June 24 National Song”, of which most young Thais are unaware, were uploaded on pro-red shirt thaienews.blogspot.com. Someone also tweeted a link to 37 online books written by or about Pridi Banomyong, the most respected leader of the 1932 revolt, for free download. Two years after the red-shirt June 24 Democracy Group led by Somyos Prueksaksemsuk called for the re-designation of June 24 as National Day, the debate continues.

Chulalongkorn University historian Asst Prof Suthachai Yimprasert, himself a red shirt, said the revived interest is something new and has to do with the 2006 coup.

“After the coup, people recognised that democracy was under siege and they went back to search for the meaning and origin of democracy [in Thailand]. Events [commemorating] June 24 have grown bigger year by year [since the 2006 coup],” said Suthachai. He added, however, that all activities related to the day have been organised by private groups and citizens, in contrast to the period between 1938 and 1960, when they were organised and celebrated by the state as National Day.

On June 4, 1960 dictator Field Marshal Sarith Thanarat ended the status of June 24 as National Day and reassigned HM the King’s birthday, December 5, as the date for the national celebration. Suthachai thinks the date is problematic, as December 5 is celebrated today as both Father’s Day and the King’s Birthday, and the connotation with National Day is simply not there.

Suthachai argues that since Sarith was a dictator and coup-maker, his order should be regarded as void and June 24 should be recognised again as National Day, while December 5 can continue to be celebrated as HM’s birthday.

While such a debate is still in the nascent stage, Suthachai decries the lack of proper teaching at primary and secondary levels about the June 24 revolt. He said some of his university students do not even know who The Promoters, who staged the bloodless revolt in 1932, are.

Prominent red-shirt writer Wat Waulayangkul said Thais have almost forgotten June 24 because the powers that be and royalists do not see it as beneficial to promote the memory and history of the 1932 revolt.

Thai society, said Wat, has been made “to forget” that June 24 was once National Day.

“I still recall that as a child I was given an amulet coin to mark the National Day by my grandfather,” said the 57-year-old writer, who added he is old enough to recall the day being celebrated as National Day. “It’s not just a coin, but the whole ideology embedded in it that has been distorted so power won’t belong to the people.”

In the Thai-language book “The Changing World View of Thai Elites From the Rama V Era to 1932”, author and anthropologist Attachak Satyanulak noted that the changing consciousness regarding history in the aftermath of 1932 was that ordinary people began to recognise that they, too – not just royals – contributed to the process of nation-building, and that great men can also come from a common background.

Nearly 80 years on, the modest bronze plaque marking the spot where the June 24 revolt took place, set in concrete in the ground at the Royal Plaza – and exposed to automobile traffic – is considerably tarnished. Suthachai is against removing it as a way of protecting it, however, fearing it would not be replaced in any way.

Chulalongkorn University political scientist Trakoon Mechai warned, however, that red shirts should not attempt to monopolise the memory of the June 24, 1932 revolt, or act as its sole custodian.

“You can champion it, but you shouldn’t monopolise it. Others have the right to invoke [June 24] too,” said Trakoon, who added that although the memory of June 24 has receded over the decades, red shirts have intentionally chosen to revive the date to symbolically advance their struggle. The debate about June 24 versus December 5 as the country’s national day is another aspect of the struggle over national symbols witnessed by Thai society today.

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